This is one of the questions that I get asked most frequently. The answer tends to be one of:

  • It depends if you are a company, employer or self-employed.
  • That’s a complex one and we will need to look at your specific circumstances.
  • That’s easy, the answer is Yes or No.

So with that in mind, here is our overview of the most popular categories of business expense.

Accounting fees

The cost of an accountant to prepare accounts is an expense allowable for tax relief. Also, if you are a director and the company pays an accountant to complete your personal tax return, this is a taxable benefit.

Advertising and marketing

A company can claim tax relief on advertising and marketing costs for the business. This includes: advertising, networking, printing, direct mail and website hosting and maintenance.

Bank charges

Tax relief on interest payments and charges can be claimed on a bank account when it is in the name of the business.

Broadband and telephone

If you don’t have a separate broadband contract and phone line for your business, a proportion for business use is an eligible business cost. You can also claim the business proportion of your mobile phone bill as well. That said, you may be better paying broadband and mobile phone bills personally, then claiming the cost back. This may be more convenient than setting up separate business contracts.

Charitable donations

Companies can usually claim tax relief on the cost of Gift Aid donations. If you are self-employed this is not an allowable expense, although you can include Gift Aid donations on your personal tax return.


To the consternation of some, entertaining clients is considered business entertaining and is not eligible for tax relief.

For companies, tax relief can be claimed for staff entertaining for annual events like a Christmas party which is open to all staff and costs less than £150 per head. If you are self employed, you may be able to claim the cost of staff entertaining providing it is not excessive.

NOTE: Subcontractors and freelancers are not considered staff. A company where the directors are the only employees are also not eligible for staff entertaining.


Gifts to employees may be considered an employee benefit unless they are small gifts like a bouquet of flowers. A gift to anyone who is not an employee is eligible for tax relief as long as the gift is not food, drink, tobacco or a voucher and it costs less than £50 per recipient per year and includes the business logo.


Expenses on working from home is not a one size fits all. If you use your home for business purposes you can claim for mortgage interest (but not capital repayments) or rent, utilities, insurance, service charges, cleaning and council tax. How much you can claim depends on how many rooms in your house you use and how much time the rooms are used for business purposes. This is a complex area so check with a bookkeeper or accountant first. Otherwise, if not calculated correctly, you may be liable for capital gains tax.


The cost of business insurance (public and/or employer’s liability) is a fully allowable for tax relief.


You can claim reasonable costs for meals and refreshments if this is incurred in conjunction with eligible time away / business travel in the course or carrying out your trade or profession.


You can claim travel costs. This includes for mileage, train and air travel when they are for the purposes of your business. Travel rules depend on where your place of work is located.

Travel costs from home to your place of work cannot be claimed. If your home is your place of work, then business travel will be allowable as are the cost of tolls and car parking. Travelling by car on business qualifies for business mileage. The rate is currently 45p per mile for the first 10,000 miles and 25p per mile thereafter.

NOTE: Tax relief cannot be claimed on the costs of fines or speeding tickets.


If you are self-employed, training to learn a new skill is considered a personal benefit and is not an allowed. That said, the cost of updating or continuing development costs once you have a qualification is allowed for tax.

For companies, the cost of staff training is an allowable tax relief, provided the training is wholly and exclusively for the purpose of the company’s business.


If you purchase a van or motorbike for business use you can claim back the VAT on the purchase. If you purchase a car you maybe better to buy a car as an individual and claim back mileage for business use.

Summary and next steps

This is just a list of the most common benefits, it is not an exhaustive list. As mentioned the situation is different depending on whether you are self-employed or a company. We would direct you to the following Government online resources for the most up to date information.

This information is correct as at time of publication but is liable to change at any time. Do not rely on the information herein as it is a means of guidance only. We would strongly recommend you to contact us with any specific questions.